Mar 01, 2018

TV host who lived for 2 weeks in nursing home films her experience

A documentary, titled ‘Anita’s Nursing Home Stay’ offers a rare insight into the day-to-day activities of what it’s like to be a frail old resident in a nursing home.

Anita Kapoor, a young TV host and caregiver, volunteered to spend two weeks in one of Singapore’s nursing homes as an “elderly resident”.

Her first-hand experience was nothing short of eye-opening, raising questions on care dilemmas like protection versus personal autonomy and efficiency versus dignity.

Anita goes to stay at the Salvation Army’s Peacehaven Nursing Home. For the purposes of the experiment she is “diagnosed” with mild dementia and incontinence, and has trouble swallowing and is wheelchair bound.

“It’s weird to see your existence broken down to a bed, a bedside table, meals and interaction. And just very specific spaces,” Anita shares.

During her time there, Anita wore incontinence pads, ate their food and even had someone else bathe her.

Anita finds the other residents caring and able in different ways. They help each other out. On her first day, one resident moved the tissue box closer to Anita at the dining table and encourages her to eat. This moves her to tears.

“People are more welcoming here than in regular life,” says Anita, “I think people could learn from that.”

Anita, who is labelled as a “high risk of falls”, is made to wear a “body jacket” that is restrained to the bed to ensure she doesn’t fall off the bed – all for “her own safety”.

Anita describes the “body jacket” as being very similar to a straight-jacket, made from a fabric that is not breathable “at all”.

“Whenever someone says to me, ‘It’s for your safety’, all I think about is, ‘What about your dignity?’,” Anita explains, as she is strapped down to her bed.

At 5am, Anita is woken to have her vital signs checked. The bright lights make it hard for her to fall back asleep … and overnight a smell of urine and faeces has developed from the other residents.

Anita finds the bathing process particularly uncomfortable. She is bathed by a carer on a metal chair. And what particularly catches her eye, is how quick each resident’s shower is. Shower or bathing is often dependent on staff capacity.

“The current system, this is absolutely not a home – 70-80% of it, there is nothing homely about it.”

The days drag on, “I have no realisation of what time it is. And there’s long moments of nothing going on. How long can you sit, seriously?”

During Anita’s time at the facility, she meets – and befriends – many of the residents.

“It made me so determined that the ‘story’ of each person is as important as the ‘care’ of each person. Because the story dictates the care – that’s what I think.”

The documentary was commissioned by the Lien Foundation in the hope to raise awareness and create a healthy conversation on ways to improve the quality of life in nursing homes.

When asked why The Salvation Army Peacehaven Nursing Home was involved with the film project, Mdm Low Mui Lang, Executive Director, said:

“We are always striving to serve our residents better. This documentary project allows us to have another perspective of the nursing home experience from the eyes of a ‘user’. Although Anita is not a typical nursing home resident with dementia, some of her observations from her stay underscore the complex questions we face in nursing homes today. Like, certain support aids have to be used in order to protect the resident’s wellbeing, and it’s always a delicate balance between the need for safety and the downsides of over-protection.”

Perhaps this could be the awareness we need here in Australia, too.

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  1. Omg iv work many year in age care in Australia and the UK 🇬🇧 and and it against the law to tide down and a lot off the new home now are one person in a room, but a lot off is true, the feeding and shower 🚿 it just need to be chance I for one will never go into a N/Home it to sad 😔 I do not work in age care any more too hard low pay and just to sad and unstaffed, I could tell up heap what go on in some places that why I got out

  2. I became unwell and had to put my nearly 83 year old totally blind {GCA} mum into respite for 17 days.. Understaffed, I know they are and most do a great job….but she never complains,,,only to me…10 min to get toileted…overlooked for happy hour…..just as they walk by her room the carers could have said you ok…need anything…..Not impressed…she was sick the second night there and had a major nose bleed…nothing done.. ME Angry and still sick. as I have no siblings I care full time and have a 2 hr break twice a week. It look like what I have is serious.I won’t put her into full time care..

  3. She was spot on. They cared for the body not the person.
    There was no home inviroment no showing who the person was ,no family photo no persons name likes or dislikes.
    They where bodies waiting in an istution waiting to die.
    Surely. a dignified way to let them pass in kinder.

  4. I work in a skilled nursing home as a nurse. I am kind to my patients and try to get to know them. I understand what Anita is saying about giving them more to create better home for them. The big problem is we are never staffed right and it is always so rushed to get the work done. It breaks my heart every day I go into work but it also makes me feel good if I can feel like I made the difference in a positive way for my patients. Very interesting video and store. Thank you.

  5. What’s the ratio of carers to clients in nursing homes?
    A lot of carers do their best but not enough carers employed should be 1 carer to no more than 5 clients or less.

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